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Pope’s gesture to China returned

HONG KONG (SE) : “I would love to go to China, which has a great culture and a lot of good things,” Pope Francis said during an in-flight press conference on his way back to Rome from the United States of America on September 28.

Pope Francis continued, “China is a great nation that offers the world a great culture, so many good things. I said once on the plane when we were flying over China when we were coming back from Korea that I would very much like to go to China.”

He continued, saying, “I love the Chinese people and I hope there is a possibility of having good relations—good relations. We’re in contact, we talk, we are moving forward, but for me, having a friend of a great country like China, which has so much culture and has so much opportunity to do good, would be a joy.”

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing returned the gesture on the following day when the Global Times published an article promising that China is sincere about improving its relationship with the Vatican.

The article was also posted on the website of the state-run mouthpiece of the Communist Party, the People’s Daily.

The Global Times quotes a researcher at the state-affiliated Chinese Academy of Social Sciences as saying that China needs the assistance of the Vatican to solve its religious and social instability, Quartz News reported on October 1.

“Improving relations would also benefit both sides. Underground Churches (unofficial Church communities) and the lack of authority of some bishops have become a problem, which can impact on the stability of Chinese society. We cannot solve those problems without the Vatican’s involvement,” Huang Zheping quotes the article as saying.

Huang also quotes Hsieh Chih-chuan, an assistant researcher at the National Policy Foundation in Taipei, Taiwan, as saying that there is a high likelihood of Pope Francis and Xi Jinping, the president of China, meeting together in order to lay down a foundation for diplomatic ties.

Huang believes that because the article is posted in state-sanctioned media and Wang has a position in a state-sanctioned organisation, the article has some degree of official endorsement.

Pope Francis has never made any secret of the fact that he would love to visit China and also see relations between the Church and the government improve.

He also made such a gesture when he flew over Chinese territory on his way to and from South Korea for Asian Youth Day in 2014 and the gesture was acknowledged in Chinese media.

 

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